GUWAHATI, Jan 18 - Demand for money by militants is suspected to be the main reason for torching of nine tankers carrying crude oil from Kharsang in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh to Digboi on January 16. Meanwhile, the police forces of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, along with Army personnel have launched a coordinated operation against militants in the inter-state bordering belt, which is considered to be the hotbed of militant activities.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that though investigations would ascertain the facts relating to the torching of the oil tankers, it is suspected that demand for money by the ultras is the main reason for the incident. It is suspected that the militants must have demanded money from the transport companies, which owned the tankers. However, the transporters did not inform police either in Arunachal Pradesh or Assam about demand for money.
Sources said that apart from demand for money, there was no apparent reason for torching the tankers as the ultras wanted to send a message across. The militants were not trying to harm the drivers and other employees travelling on the tankers and they were allowed to get down before the tankers were torched, sources added. Though the identity of the militants involved in the incident is yet to be ascertained, it is suspected that members of the NSCN(I-M), which is under cease-fire agreement with the Government of India, were involved in the incident as there were reports of movement of the cadres of the outfit in that area.
Meanwhile, security sources admitted that with the Republic Day approaching, the active militant groups of the region are desperately trying to push in their members into India from their bases in Myanmar to indulge in acts of violence to make their presence felt. The Assam Police is working in close coordination with police forces of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and coordinated operations have been launched by the police forces of the states along with the Army and paramilitary force personnel to check the movement of the militants. The Superintendents of Assam Police of the districts having borders with Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are holding regular interactions with their counterparts in the neighbouring states, while, senior police officials are also visiting the vulnerable places to monitor the operations on the ground.
The main problem faced by the police and security forces is the terrain as contiguous jungle areas along the interstate border areas make the task of the forces more difficult and the militants can try to take advantage of the situation. Moreover, the militants also move in small groups, which makes the task of the forces even more difficult. However, all out efforts are being made to increase vigil along the routes known to be frequented by the militant groups to ensure that the Republic Day celebrations pass off peacefully.
Sources said that Arunachal Pradesh police force is facing shortage of manpower and other infrastructure related issues, particularly in the trouble torn districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, but they are extending full cooperation to Assam Police and security forces in the counter insurgency operations.